Diseases that are attributed to lifestyle choices, such as diabetes, and heart and pulmonary disease, are on the rise. Lack of exercise, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and smoking are major contributors to these diseases. These choices often lead to poor quality of life, higher healthcare costs, higher employee absenteeism, and lower employee productivity. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the costs attributed to treating chronic disease are estimated to account for over 75 percent of national health expenditures.
To inspire a healthier lifestyle, Columbus Ophthalmology Associates believes in going straight to the source, our employees. We provide health-promoting opportunities through our employee-driven wellness program. I recognized the need to implement an opportunity to encourage and support a healthy staff community and thought a wellness program would provide overall health benefits to the staff, a sense of community and an opportunity for fellowship.
In 2013 we kicked off our wellness program focusing on baseline information for our staff that included bariatric testing and an educational program. Once completed, the staff was given a pedometer. Since then we have offered challenges that included increased activity, weight loss and a zero-to-5K program that is in the works. Our goal is to provide something for everyone and show everyone can do something to increase their wellness (even if it’s just walking for 15 minutes at lunch like our lovely staff in the photo above).
As we coordinate the parameters of our 5K, we are excited to include wearable devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Vivofit and phone apps that enable you to track your physical activity and calories burned. Employees who have the devices will be able to share updates with co-workers through social media apps and keep track of others’ progress as we track our own. These provide the ability for co-workers to cheer each other on and encourage their good efforts toward a healthier life.
For people who aren’t offered a wellness program at work, there are online opportunities. Talk with your insurance company. Many times insurance carriers have programs that are free and provide great opportunities for overall wellness.